by N. A. Halkides 8/5/14
During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Mother Jones unearthed a video of Mitt Romney at a fundraiser making what would prove to be a controversial statement. Members of the Left insisted it was a “gaffe” and did all they could to use it against him. It became known (sort of) as “The 47% remark.” Here it is in full:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Most of the attacks were concerned with whether Romney had the exact percentage right (see e.g. CBS News’ Fact Checking Mitt Romney’s 47 percent Comment, which admits the 47% figure is correct but then delves into payroll taxes, the low taxes paid by Americans over the age of 65, and other collateral matters), and ignored the far more significant question of whether there truly was a “taker” class in America that would always vote Democratic to retain the goodies supplied them at taxpayer expense. And it must be admitted that Romney expressed himself very clumsily, although off-the-cuff remarks will seldom be models of eloquence.
But the important question was not whether the figure of 47% should be replaced by 45.6%, or why senior citizens tend to vote Republican despite as a group paying less in income taxes than some arbitrarily-chosen other group, but whether Romney’s observation that there is a large class of voters who vote Democratic because they receive much in government welfare benefits while paying little or no taxes was correct – and it was! This essential point, which was buried in what he had obviously and imperfectly picked up from listening to others, might be restated more precisely as follows: with any redistributionist government outwardly democratic in form, there will arise a class of politicians who seek election by promising a segment of voters that they will get lots of other people’s money by voting for those politicians, and there will arise a subset of these voters who respond to the pitch and vote for such politicians specifically in order to receive other people’s money. In the U.S., these conniving politicians are called Democrats, and they obtain a great advantage in every election through such legalized bribery. This is not only inescapable in theory, it is demonstrable in practice, although with some difficulty.[pullquote]In the U.S., these conniving politicians are called Democrats, and they obtain a great advantage in every election through such legalized bribery.[/pullquote]
The difficulty arises because precise figures for the voting patterns of welfare recipients and public sector workers (the two most significant classes that take out of the public treasury far more than they contribute, the latter in fact contributing nothing) are not easily available; this article has been delayed for many weeks while the author searched largely in vain for the relevant statistics. It is rather surprising that no poll or study showing party preference based on amount of government benefits received seems to exist; perhaps it never occurred to the GOP Establishment to commission one and perhaps the Democrats realized the fewer people who think about this subject the better, from their point of view. The closest I could come was a chart showing that as the amount of household taxes paid became gradually greater than the amount of government benefits received, there was an increasing tendency to vote Republican. This is not exactly a surprise – why would people not want to keep more of what they have earned, which in general means voting Republican (and then becoming disgusted when the Establishment GOP inevitably sells out)? And it is known that in the 2012 Presidential election, income was an excellent predictor of preference: Obama cleaned up with voters making considerably less than $50,000 per year, while Romney easily won among those making more than about $50,000 per year (see this exit poll). (There is one exception to this: the super-rich tend to vote Democratic, which is interesting and worth further examination but beyond the scope of this article). This is certainly consistent with a preference of welfare voters for Democrats since it is fair to assume that as income rises beyond $50,000 people are both collecting fewer government benefits and paying more in taxes, although the picture is obscured somewhat by absurdly complicated tax laws that make the amount of taxes paid not predictable by the amount of income alone. Also, we should hope that no one is getting $50,000 or more per year on welfare, meaning that welfare-voters are part of a group known to skew heavily Democratic, but there are so many benefit programs out there that we can’t be sure.
Returning to theory, let us examine what happens if and when, in a welfare-state democracy, the class of voters who will vote to maintain their unearned (welfare) incomes or government employee salaries becomes large enough to push the country to the Left beyond the point that a true opposition (i.e. non-statist) party can ever win an election. Note that this parasitic class need not be a majority by itself; it only needs to be large enough so that when combined with those not a part of it who subscribe to statist ideology they form a consistent voting majority. And something Romney did not consider, but which is of enormous importance today, is the existence of middle-class entitlements, which function not primarily as income-transfer payments the way programs for the “poor” (i.e., the relatively poor) do but as a method of controlling the middle class, which is largely financing its own programs. By contrast, “poor” citizens who vote for welfare are supplying relatively little of the monies to be transferred to them, making them technically the more parasitical of the two. Middle-class voters who are seduced into believing they are getting some sort of free lunch with these entitlement programs probably should not be called “parasites” since it’s really a kind of self-parasitism in which they are compelled to fund government-run programs from which they derive some economic benefit, the amount of which must of course be less than the aggregate amount of the taxes they’re paying because of the great cost in administering these programs. But many of them do not realize that they would be better off without the programs and instead retaining the taxes they are paying to support those programs, making them more dupes and victims than “parasites”. And some government workers are of course necessary. However, as I can find no better description of those who vote specifically to obtain an earned or unearned income from the taxpayer than “the parasite class,” that is the term I shall continue to use.
Numerically, it is clearly possible in theory for the parasite class plus the dedicated socialists (there being as mentioned earlier some considerable overlap between the two groups) to form a permanent majority since the remaining 49% or less can be made to bear the burden of supporting them. Let us designate this point, at which 51% or more will always vote socialist (in contemporary America, Democratic) as the Tipping Point. To show that the Tipping Point does in fact exist either we must either supply an example of a democracy that has reached it or else show that a parasite class which votes to benefit itself at everyone else’s expense is fact and not just theory.
Regarding Western Europe, one is tempted to conclude that the Tipping Point has already been reached; the voter in every election there has a choice only between Left and further Left. Consider the allegedly “conservative” (by American standards) parties that exist: the Tories (Great Britain), the Christian Democrats or CDU (Germany), and the UMP (France). What strikes one immediately is how far to the Left these three European parties are: the Tories never speak of dismantling Britain’s National Health Service (socialized medicine) despite the fact that it is a complete disaster, the CDU openly supports the welfare state but advocates at least some free-market economic ideas, and the UMP is more socially and politically Left than Right, and may fairly be described as socialist-lite. The CDU seems most like the American Republican Party, while the Tories and the UMP seem to resemble what the GOP would look like if its Conservatives were removed. But we must beware mistaking the truth of a conditional statement for the truth of its converse, which does not logically follow; as it will be seen later it is true that once the Tipping Point has been reached there will be no true opposition parties, but it does not follow that the absence of such opposition parties means the Tipping Point has necessarily been reached – it may only mean that the ideology of statism dominates the culture.
In America, many Conservatives (including our own indefatigable editor, Brad Nelson) believe the Tipping Point has already been reached, while others think we’re close – and no one thinks we’re at a safe distance from it. The Democrats winning the popular vote in five out of the last six Presidential elections is certainly an ominous sign. And yet, the more statistically-minded among us naturally seek some supporting data. One excellent study alluded to earlier compared the taxes paid and government spending received by households. The figures are for 1991 – 2004, but are unlikely to have changed much:
“Overall, tax payments exceeded government spending received for the top two quintiles of income, resulting in a net fiscal transfer of between $1.031 trillion and $1.527 trillion between quintiles.”
While I found this dollar amount of income transfers shocking (that’s a whole lot of looting going on), the more significant datum for the present discussion is the approximate “crossover point” at which people go from getting more in benefits than they pay in taxes to the reverse, which is at the third quintile (the point at which 40% of incomes are higher and 60% are lower). In trying to determine what income amount this represents, I was hampered by the fact that many non-statisticians appear to think there are five quintiles, not four. What they mean is that the data are divided into five equal parts, but it is the four dividing lines that are technically the quintiles themselves. According to the Census Bureau, the third quintile occurs at an income of $62,434 (Table H-1 for the year 2012). This is so suspiciously close to the line dividing Obama voters from Romney voters that I cannot believe it to be a coincidence.
If that is not evidence enough, I would point to the facts that the poorest neighborhoods of our inner cities, where welfare is a way of life, vote heavily Democratic (even before being augmented by vote fraud) as do the wealthy suburbs of Washington, D.C. where lives the well-paid (at taxpayer expense) bureaucratic elite. For myself and I would think most Conservatives, all this is enough to establish the reality of the parasitic class and hence the Tipping Point. Then there is the entire State of California, in which no Republican holds statewide office and in which it seems inconceivable that any Conservative could ever win such office, which serves as an example of a state past the Tipping Point. And if there are any Leftists reading this who still aren’t convinced, I’m not going to worry about it because they’re the same people who don’t believe that the IRS targeted Conservatives or that Obama is a radical.
Consequences of the Reality of the Tipping Point
- The reality of the Tipping Point implies that democracy by itself is not a sufficient defense against tyranny. I raise this argument because many Americans of the “moderate” persuasion seem to hold a conscious or sub-conscious belief that as long as there are still elections, the country will be free, and nothing could be further from the truth.
- Both income redistribution and unfair, unequal taxation tend to lead to tyranny, therefore both will have to be banned for a free society to be stable. They are, in fact, two sides of the same coin and are monstrously immoral as well as destabilizing. Nothing could be more unfair than to allow one citizen to impose taxes on others that he will never pay himself, and nothing could have a more corrupting effect than to allow him to profit personally with unearned income taken from those others by voting for a particular party.
- Since by definition no non-statist candidate or party can win (nationwide) election once the Tipping Point is reached, the first effect is to move any nominally non-Leftist parties so far to the left that they are completely statist, disagreeing with the dominant party or parties only on minor details and not on fundamental principles. Under such conditions, they become in practice merely opposing factions within the dominant party, which I will call “The Party of the State,” and are no longer truly opposition parties. Thus although the Party of the State need not officially ban “opposition” parties, nonetheless one-party rule will have been achieved. This significance of this fact cannot be overstated since one-party rule is one of the hallmarks of dictatorship.
- At this late stage of the descent into tyranny, not even freedom of the press, should it still exist, will be able to save the remaining forces of freedom except under the most exceptional circumstances. (And of course by that time free speech will be under concerted attack, as it is today in both the U.S. and Europe). We have seen in most large cities and in the state of California that once the Party of the State (i.e. Democrats) is in firm control, no amount of mismanagement and catastrophe seems sufficient to dislodge them from power because too many voters are incompetent and/or corrupt and so will continue to vote for them. (Vote fraud is also a factor in any districts where Republicans might still be competitive for some reason). This is alarming since it means although liberty may still be advocated and the government criticized for its malfeasance, there are not enough people left who are open to rational persuasion or who care about their freedom to bring about a liberalization of the government by peaceful means.
- Since the newborn tyranny cannot be dislodged peacefully, freedom may now only be restored by one of the following methods:
- a)Nullification of obnoxious acts and decrees (in the U.S., by a state or a group of states)
- b)Secession of one or more states or provinces (within a federated republic such as the U.S. or Canada)
- c)Revolution, meaning the government is overthrown (office-holders actually removed from office by force of arms and held under arrest)
- d)Complete collapse of society in such a way that the central government can no longer retain effective control of the country. Such a weakened central government will probably be the case in Afghanistan, for instance, once American forces leave, because it was the case before they arrived. The idea is that the forces of freedom can then march in and simply take over without firing a shot, much as Fortinbras claims the empty throne of Denmark at the end of Hamlet. Readers of Ayn Rand will also recognize this as the conclusion of Atlas Shrugged. I myself am unconvinced this could work in Western Europe or America, where it seems to me that unlike Afghanistan there would still be internal security forces and perhaps a corrupted army to be overcome if it cannot be persuaded to stand down, and where of course by that time private firearms will have been confiscated. There would probably also be a number of local “warlords” each of whom might seek to extend his rule, and they would have to be overcome as well. It might work, however, at the level of city or even state government – a subject for another day.
- e)A combination of massive civil obedience with some other as yet undiscovered methods of resistance which in combination compel the government to give in to the demands of the freedom forces. This might be a method by which the Left could be compelled to accept either secession or else new Constitutional limitations on its power. I have included this as a theoretical possibility, but how it might work in isolated practice is hard to see, especially against the modern-day Left which is extraordinarily loathe ever to give up the slightest degree of power.
I will take up these possibilities in detail at a later time.
If the Tipping Point Has Not Yet Quite Been Reached
If the Tipping Point has not been reached, then it is imperative to win some elections and to move the country to the right after winning. To win elections, a principled attack on the ideas of the Left must be mounted, and to move the country to the right government must actually shrink – reducing the rate of its growth is not enough. This is obvious when we consider the process by which the country was moved left in the first place: larger government meant more welfare dependents and more government workers. Smaller government means fewer welfare dependents and fewer government workers, meaning fewer votes for the Party of the State. Republicans squandered a priceless opportunity in 2000 when they held Congress and the quirks of the Electoral College resulted in George W. Bush being elected President instead of Al Gore – they spent money at a faster pace than had taken place under Bill Clinton, moving the country further Left and setting the stage for the Democratic victories of 2006 and 2008.
The GOP Establishment, when it is not pursuing policies such as massive third-world immigration sure to lead to its extinction as an opposition force, sometimes acts as though it wishes to win elections but when it does win it moves the country to the Left as if it were the Democrats, or at best engages in a holding action (this is the infamous “ratchet effect”). It is for this reason among others that the highest political priority for American Conservatives at the present time must be to either take control of the Republican Party or to destroy it and replace it with a Conservative Party, for only in that way can we move this country away from the precipice – assuming we have not already fallen over.
Nik is a freelance writer, former professor, and has written for FrontPage Magazine.
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